Op-Ed: Humanizing women

Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 5:04pm

People don’t like to talk about women. Yet, from the slow emergence of mainstream feminism to the backlash and outrage in regard to the Harvey Weinstein allegations, discussions surrounding women and women’s rights have taken on a larger role in the media. As conversations turn to women, it’s easy to refer to women as a commodity. The term “women” starts to refer to a generalized object and not to nearly half of the world’s population. With this generalization comes an emotional distance that permeates the conversation. 

Politically, women’s bodies are under attack. A woman’s right to personal autonomy over her sexual and reproductive health is constantly threatened. At state levels, legislators are restricting access to abortion clinics and providers. At the federal level, elected officials aim to criminalize abortions by punishing abortion providers who perform the procedure after 20 weeks, as indicated by a majority vote in the House passed Oct. 3.

Abortion has been a taboo subject for as long as it has existed. The first United States law restricting abortions was passed in 1821. Since then, legislators have worked tirelessly to control and criminalize women’s bodies. From religious zealots citing bible verses to pseudo-science wielding misogynists, anti-choice advocates have employed any number of tactics to vilify abortion and the women who undergo them. Whether it be for fear of backlash or judgment, people who have had abortions often find it hard to tell their stories.

When we talk about abortion, we tend to use statistics and macro-level statements. It becomes easy to forget that despite its prevalence, individuals’ stories tend not to be told. To decide whether to have an abortion is a subjective and personal choice often riddled with anxiety and fear. However, the extraneous circumstances that factor into this decision are often ignored or downplayed. An essential aspect of the pro-choice movement is the emphasis on individual choice, something so many women are already without.

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, Students for Choice will be hosting their fifth annual Abortion Speak Out in the Hussey Room of the Michigan League. This is an opportunity and space for members of the community to come together and share their experiences without fear of judgment or anger.

Please bring your MCard with you to the event, and keep in mind that to maintain the privacy and safety of community members, Students for Choice asks that you refrain from using photography, videography or recording materials during the event. This year, Students for Choice will also be screening a new documentary directed by Tracy Droz Tragos titled “Abortion: Stories Women Tell.”

If you have personal experience with abortion, consider sharing your story here confidentially and anonymously or at the Speak Out. If you haven’t had personal experience with abortion, Student for Choice still encourages you to attend in demonstration of support and solidarity.

Did reading this piece inspire you to share your own opinions? Do you have something to say about an issue you care about? Learn how to submit an op-ed or letter to the editor here.